Hermione Corfield, who appeared alongside Lily James in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, plays Sawyer, a bright college senior shunning the traditional family get-together for a job offer in Washington DC on Thanksgiving weekend. Predictably, she takes a wrong turn in the Kentucky woods and encounters two yokels in the form of Buck (Daniel R. Hill) and Hollister (Micah Hauptman), who make their intentions known promptly after Sawyer refuses their advances and help. Sawyer escapes into the woods, but lack of food and nourishment causes her to collapse, eventually being rescued and kept under reluctant guard by another local, Lowell (Jay Paulson). Before long, though, Buck and Hollister – who are also responsible for their own home-made chemical manufacturing business – are keen to make sure Sawyer is no longer welcome down yonder way…
Lead actress Corfield is a perfect casting, and her character does at least show a little resilience from the outset when she encounters the locals, which in this film doesn’t lead to us being witnesses to a prolonged torturous rape sequence like Camille Keaton or Sarah Butler go through in both versions of the Grave films. Refreshingly, in Rust Creek there’s a bit more overall concern for a character going missing in the woods, rather than the traditional female-in-crisis scenario, and the film builds to a rather atmospheric climax – if a little telegraphed at times.
The film’s opening suggests that it may transform into another Deliverance or I Spit On Your Grave, but there’s a touch of film noir within the story which lends itself more to the likes of classic Coen Brothers offerings like Blood Simple and No Country For Old Men. Unlike a lot of these films, there is some sense of grounded intelligence within the rural culture which Lowell emphasises in some of his chats with Sawyer.
As a director, McGowan has the sense to involve outside forces a little earlier in the script and (along with Jenn Wexler) has the potential to become one of the key female horror voices of the next generation of films.
RUST CREEK / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JEN McGOWAN / SCREENPLAY: STU POLLARD, JULIE LIPSON / STARRING: HERMIONE CORFIELD, DENISE DAL VERA, JEREMY GLAZER / RELEASE DATE: TBC